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Agencies issue joint guidance for employers on internal Form I-9 audits

December 16th, 2015  |  Deborah Hammonds

Earlier this week, the federal government announced the publication of a new guidance intended to help employers ensure their I-9 practices don’t result in discrimination against their employees. The publication, “Guidance for Employers Conducting Internal Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 Audits,” was issued by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), employers are required to verify the work-authorization of their employees using the Form I-9 and are prohibited from knowingly hiring unauthorized workers.  Employers seeking to ensure their Form I-9 practices comply with federal law are increasingly conducting internal audits of their Forms I-9.  To ensure that these audits are conducted properly and do not discriminate against employees, ICE and the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC)  collaborated to issue formal guidance on the topic.

Among other things, the guidance provides employers with information about the scope and purpose of audits; considerations before conducting internal audits; details regarding how to correct errors, omissions or other deficiencies found on Forms I-9 and how to cure deficiencies related to E-Verify queries; and guidance regarding the anti-discrimination mandate.  The joint guidance is available on the DHS’s website and on OSC’s website.

The agencies developed the joint guidance with significant input from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and stakeholders around the country. The guidance is part of the six-month action plan of the Interagency Working Group for the Consistent Enforcement of Federal Labor, Employment and Immigration Laws.